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Planning inspector to back Potters Fields towers

The planning inspector is to recommend approval of the controversial Berkeley Homes scheme for the Potters Fields coach park site, according to leaked documents seen by the Architect's Journal.

The AJ reports that the confidential document – which is currently sitting on John Prescott's desk – urges the deputy prime minister to approve the scheme.

Berkeley Homes wants to build a cluster of 18-storey cylindrical towers by Ian Ritchie Architects on the vacant former coach park site between Potters Fields Park and Tower Bridge Road.

Even if the DPM does overturn Southwark Council's refusal of planning permission, there is no guarantee that the development will go ahead, given the complicated ownership of the former coach park and the adjacent disused Lambeth College building. Southwark Council

The planning inquiry sat last year at Bankside House, and the inspector's findings have been keenly anticipated by local residents who led the fight against the development.

Local MP Simon Hughes said last year: "I have made it clear to Berkeley Homes that it is an inappropriate set of buildings and inappropriate for a site of world importance to be for high cost housing."

Southwark Council has also consistently opposed the scheme. Speaking last year, council leader and Riverside ward councillor Nick Stanton said: "This planning inquiry will throw open a stark choice. Should Potters Fields be used to build flats that only a fraction of Londoners could afford, or should it become the location for a world class cultural attraction and two new primary schools serving Southwark's children? There is no doubt that Southwark needs more affordable housing and we are working to deliver this throughout the borough. But we also need investment, jobs and school places for our growing population, things that Berkeley Homes' proposed scheme simply will not provide."

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